2 B. POLEVOI
hurriedly right after I returned from Kuzmin's funeral,
describes an 80-year-old collective farmer who repeated
the exploit of Ivan Susanin, legendary hero of the people's
liberation struggle in Russia in the early 17th century.
At the cost of his life he led enemy troops deep into an
impassable forest from where none of them returned.
The story was raw and badly presented. As soon as I
returned to Moscow from the front, I was summoned^ by
the Pravda editor-in-chief, who told me that my write-
up of that outstanding exploit had been too hasty and
that it had been done in the style of a cub reporter.
ult could have been made into a beautiful story," he
reproached me and, with his habit of generalising, added:
"I have said it to the other war correspondents and I am
saying it to you: make notes of everything out of the
ordinary that you hear of or see performed. It is your
civic duty. More, it is your duty as a member of the Party.
To keep these exploits alive so that our people can learn
now or later the full story of how their fellow-citizens
fought fascism and triumphed you must write everything
I got myself a thick notebook in a stiff binding and
began to write down all the conspicuous acts of heroism
I came across at the front lines, noting down the civil
address of the heroes themselves or of the witnesses.
Meanwhile, my work as a war correspondent kept me
moving from one sector of the war to another, from the
front to partisan territory behind the enemy lines, where
intrepid task groups were harassing the enemy from bases
in the forests, and then again to the front lines in Stalin-
grad, the Kursk Salient, Korsun-Shevchenkovsky, the
Vistula, the Neisse, the Spree___
Altogether, I made notes of sixty-five such episodes.
One of them, about an unusual meeting with Senior
Guards Lieutenant Alexei Maresyev of the Air Force, de-
veloped into the book A Story About a Real Man. Of the
others, I selected twenty-four, which I felt were the most
dramatic, typical and revealing and used them for the
stories in We—Soviet People.
To this day I have not lost the habit of making notes
of what I see. In The Return, a short story, I endeavoured
to draw a word-portrait of a noted Moscow steelmaker.